Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D. in Education

First Advisor

Amy E. Wells Dolan

Second Advisor

Lori Wolff

Third Advisor

Timothy Letzring

Abstract

To remain globally competitive in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), we must increase our number of underrepresented minority scientists (URMs) as our country's population becomes more diverse. For URMs to move up the educational and professional ranks, they need to be properly socialized as graduate students and faculty members (Tierney & Rhoads, 1994; Weidman, Twale, & Stein, 2001). Programs such as the Alliance of Graduate Education in Mississippi (AGEM) are designed to assist in the socialization process of doctoral students and, in turn, increase the numbers of the URMs in faculty roles. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to describe the graduate student and faculty socialization experiences of URM faculty who were AGEM graduates. Using a collective case study method, this qualitative study asked: How do minority faculty members in STEM fields who are AGEM graduates describe their socialization experiences during their doctoral program and their socialization experiences after graduation as faculty members? Moreover, it also addressed four questions about the AGEM's role in the socialization process of graduate students and new faculty members: (1) How has the AGEM program impacted AGEM graduates preparation for the professoriate? (2) How effectively did programmatic aspects of AGEM assist/promote faculty members' graduate student socialization? (3) How effectively did AGEM prepare students for their transition to the professoriate? (4) What short- and long-term outcomes have characterized AGEM graduates' faculty socialization experiences? In depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with 33 African American and three Hispanic faculty members who were STEM faculty members at a variety of institutional types. Data analysis revealed four themes: (a) Journey to the PhD; (b) Opportunity: Receiving it, Missing it, Giving it; (c) A family affair: It seems like it can be a little hot at times; and (d) The ivory island. Results indicated that doctoral advisors and other faculty members, in addition to their support systems, which included other minority students and the AGEM program, influenced the participants' graduate student socialization process. The participants also identified various motivations to enter into the professoriate. Additionally, the participants were student-oriented in regard to their teaching, research, and service. Finally, the AGEM program played a significant role in their social integration and preparation for the professoriate. Recommendations were made based on the findings of this study in addition to implications for higher education policy and research.

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